The prospect of wandering this blue-sky labyrinth forever is kind of dismal but also almost laughably so. I wanted to harness a goofy optimism, wobbling forward no matter the right angles that life throws at us.
Labyrinth is Jeffrey Smart’s last major painting. It brings together many of the philosophical, literary and artistic threads running through his work since his first paintings in Adelaide in the 1940s. Labyrinth was inspired by a hedged maze the artist saw on a book cover. The motif merged with his ongoing interest in geometry and metaphysics. It also draws on the philosophy of JW Dunne, an aeronautical engineer and author of An experiment with time (1927), who believed that dreams could represent the past, present and future. The central figure is a portrait of English writer HG Wells who was friends with Dunne and who foreshadowed in his science fiction writing many future developments, such as satellite television and the internet.